Pimpin’ Aint Easy, But it Pays the Bills

CocaineBrooklyn is a prostitute who frequents the bars in the downtown scene on a regular basis, always with a different man on her arm. She is young and brunette, speaks with a distinct New York accent and generally has a smile on her face. But she did not feel comfortable giving an interview. She wasn’t sure her man would like it and she wasn’t sure she’d be comfortable being quoted. So she pointed the way to her pimp “Downtown Brown.”

I met Brown at his condo Friday afternoon. Tall, skinny and muscular at age 37, he met me at the door in a pair of slacks, a tank top undershirt and a do-rag on his head. He welcomed me, told me that Brooklyn had said I was nice and he’d be happy to talk to me for a while. On the counter stacks of twenties stand beside a toaster and a pile of cocaine. We sat across from one another at his kitchen table and talked: first, for a few minutes, about my bar and how long I’d been bartending, before moving into my time at UNLV and his time at college at Fresno State.

Brown came from Minneapolis Minnesota and spent some time in Georgia as well. He went to college in Fresno on a basketball scholarship. He was successful and enjoyed it but in school he was injured and did not garner enough attention to get drafted to the NBA. Instead Brown pursued his dream in the less fashionable way, playing briefly in Japan, before joining the Las Vegas Rattlers, now known as the Aces, of the American Basketball Association.

It was a way to live his dream, but the pay was not good and he lived in a city that whose nightlife demanded attention and a better paycheck. Growing up hustling had always been around Brown’s life. His uncle Billy lived down the block and had been pimping as long as he could remember. His cousin across the street was known as the Prince of Darkness.

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All Sides Report Obama Will Find Support to Punish Assad, Most Don’t Seem to Mind

Obama v Assad 

Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before Congress Tuesday to pitch the White House’s case for military action against Syria. Coverage of the discussions on the floor in congress have led the front page of the website of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Beast and Fox News.

In the wake of the murder of over 1,400 Syrian civilians by sarin gas, President Obama and his staff have been pushing for consensus support in punishing the nation’s president, Assad, and his military capabilities for the war crimes committed against their own people. It seems, according to each web site, that Mr. Obama is likely to be granted 90 days to conduct military operations as well as a an option for congress to allow an extra 30 days if needed to accomplish military objectives.

After initially reading proffered by the New York Times I moved on to the Wall Street Journal, the flag ship paper of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch. One might expect such an entity to subscribe to a position contrary to the Time’s report of support from all sides of the President’s request. But such was not the case.

According to the Journal, though Kerry spent hours in front of congress fielding questions from both parties, he left with support from many Republicans and Democrats alike.

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Alicia Shepard, UNLV’s 2013 Guest Professor Makes a Difference in Student’s Lives, Sets Example with Her Own.

Alicia Shepard

“I never worked on the high school newspaper, never worked on the college paper, I was lucky the guy that I worked for saw something in me … basically I’m very nosy.”

Alicia Shepard’s career in journalism took her by surprise, then led her across the country and halfway around the world. She wrote for a number of years for “American Journalism Review” and has contributed to the “New York Times,” “The Washington Post” and the “Chicago Tribune.”

Shepard served as the public editor for “National Public Radio,” and has taught journalism across the nation. In 2012 she joined the UNLV Greenspun School of Journalism as a guest professor, bringing the school the instant credibility of a nationally renowned media figure.

In her undergraduate studies at George Washington University, Shepard focused neither on journalism nor communications, instead majoring in English and minoring in biology. “I always thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher,” she confessed.  Her senior year however, fate intervened. “I needed a part time job and I saw there was a news bureau the needed an assistant,” Shepard remembers. “I had no interest or knowledge of journalism other than getting the newspaper every morning at home.”

But she was in the door. “It was at a place called ‘Scripts League Newspaper’, a small family owned chain that had papers all over the country.” Once there she learned the ropes as she was taught to rewrite press releases and do smaller stories. “I had an aptitude for it and I liked it and he offered me a job when I graduated. I thought what the heck I’ll do it for a year. And of course I loved it.”

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Digital Integration, Be There or Be Square

screen shot final post       And we’re done. Well not quite.

One thing I really enjoy in school is really learning a new skill. Not just learning new techniques and further areas of studying, but learning something brand new that I had never much or ever deigned to play with before. It’s exciting, it reminds me why I’m here, not just for a diploma and recommendations at the end, but to become better at what I hoped to do and to become a more capable person.

The class has really been good for me in this specific area. I never much played with Flickr or Pinterest, in fact to imply that I had even started my own account or done anything more than follow links to them at another’s behest, would be dishonest. I had more experience with Facebook and had even started to post my own professional tweets on twitter. But I had never even flirted with real blogging, not beyond a few short rants or posts on social networking pages, I remember MySpace had an actual blogging function I think. Facebook’s change to “notes” did seem to motivate the creation of such posts.

I now feel like I have a chance in this high tech world. Not only do I feel I may be able to keep up my own blog in a manner that might be described as competent, I no longer see tasks like getting video onto YouTube, or starting a podcast, as so daunting. As Renay SanMiguel  intones in his, now twice read, piece “It’s Hard Out There for a 21st-Century Future Journalist of Tomorrow,” no longer is the newsroom a diverse  collection of uniquely skilled individuals putting the puzzle pieces together as a team.

digital media

This is the future, and every job opening media outlets have is looking for a candidate that can produce more with less. Consequently, aspiring journalists, not to mention journalists looking for better work, need be able to function as a one-man-unit with the ability to produce all of the content needed for publication or broadcast. And they need to be able to do so with a strong internet presence.

The internet offers means to connect to ones audience in a way that could never be achieved in eras past. Sure, you could use an editorial section to get some personal opinions out and to allow some outside  opinions in, but now comments, likes, shares and updates are all just a click away.

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Its something that Mark Coatney, director and media evangelist at Tumblr talked about during his interactive chat session at Poynter.org. I look forward to adding Tumblr to my newfound wealth of interactive creative tools. That and Polls, everybody loves polls?

 

Now that you love polls, make your own!

Facebook and Twitter Have Great Reach and Grave Consequences

twitterdigitalcollage

Social networking is double edged sword for journalists, even more so than for the average person. It seems like everyone loves Facebook and Twitter. Both sites have millions of users around the world who use them on a daily basis. On the surface they are a fun and easy way to connect with friends and loved ones or to keep up with celebrities or cultural interests. But they have real world impacts, both positive and negative, that are far more significant.

 

Four years ago Iran’s presidential election ended with incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared the victor in a landslide win that was contested by all three of his opponents, as well as thousands of citizens. Over the following weeks protesters filled the streets, despite crackdown by military and police. The media was not allowed to report on any such events, but through Facebook and Twitter the world was shown the truth of what was being done to quell the protesters, as gun fire was broadcast live and in color from people scared for their lives.iPhoneSocialMedia

 

But it’s not all sun shine and roses, as most the time people are focusing on their own lives and interests, perhaps too much. People of all walks of life have seen their careers come to an end due to a lack of discretion on social media. In her article, “13 Controversial Facebook Firings: Palace Guards, Doctors, Teachers and More,” Huffington Post writer Ramona Emerson looks at a number of people who had lost their jobs over comments they made about their boss or their place of business.

 

Not only are journalists no safer from such repercussions than your average employee, but they face even more dangers. Being friends with the wrong person or even failing to report such connections to the right people could bring questions about sources and ethical investigative tactics.

 

Despite all of that, Twitter and Facebook can each be very beneficial tools for reporting the news. As in the case of the aforementioned Iranian Green Revolution, breaking news can be gleamed form twitter, not only from reputable sources, but from trending topics. As Leah Betancourt pointed out in her article “The Journalist’s Guide to Facebook,” social networks can be an invaluable tool for reaching out to communities, groups and sources that one may not otherwise have access to. There’s nothing like knowing exactly how to contact a source one desperately needs to help flush out, or add credibility to, a story.twittermegaphone

 

People in all walks of life must be careful of how much of their private lives they allow the world access to. But these networks have made the world a smaller place, six degrees of separation must be nearly cut in half, and journalists can use these connections to assist their reporting and ability to connect with their audience. However the lure of immediate gratification can be dangerous and journalists must be careful not to let the race to be first impede their responsibility to be right.

 

Breaking a story is enticing and helps a reporter get noticed and notoriety, but blasting incorrect information from a digital megaphone is a quick way to gain notoriety as a bad source and an unreliable “journalist.”

 

Slim, Clean and Professional, Still Hip

newsdesign

I chose the Journalist design for my Blog. I liked its simplicity in design right off the bat. I take my news at least a little seriously, so I chose to present mine in form that, to me, seemed reminiscent of the clean style of newspapers. The site still allows for widgets and features a few options to play with the on the front page. A main page can be designed or the newest blog can be the focus, the design allows for a bit of personalization, but the focus is on the writing, on the topic.

I love The Daily Show and I think journalism has plenty of room for levity, plenty of room for jokes and irony. But there is also a need for the discussion of important topics to be taken seriously. Not everything has to be hip or cool, funny or controversial. Each page and update has the ability to be presented with eye catching graphics or fonts, but the site as whole I look forward to presenting as a serious page, that with any luck will speak to, and begin discussions when possible, on serious topics.

The script is serious without being old fashioned or stilted. A few fonts are spread around the page, eye catching and noticeable, highlighting separate topics and point. But it all flows well and it all looks intelligent. A good place, I think, for conversations to start and news to be printed.

_____________________________ Updated 7/8/13______

In order to customize my Blog more personally, I looked at the article “40 Impressive Dark Websites for Inspiration,” and chose a blog that offered a little visual contrast, with a dark personal picture, a copy of my signature smoke in the dark avatar.

The blog article “Backgrounds in Web Design: Examples and Best Practices,” discusses the evolution of blogs over the last decade, and how far the presentation of these, generally self-designed and self-hosted pages have come. What may have started as digital paper, with a visual image or two followed by copy, has become a plethora of personal windows, when best done offering a glimpse into the author’s mind and the blog’s content, that hopes to draw new viewers, fans or interactions from new visitors.

Versitile Journalism in the Digital Age

image courtesy of Google Creative Commons

image courtesy of Google Creative Commons

It is difficult to be a journalist in the modern world. Print is quickly going out of fashion, and to stay relevant the average journalist must learn to do be a one man production team in order to provide value to their outlet. For all but the most respected and talented journalists it is no longer enough to seek the truth and report it, the reporter should be able to produce digital content with a full report, video, relevant links and twitter references with hash tag friendly titles and phrases.

Though it is still important for any reporter to keep his ear to the ground and stay on top of breaking newsworthy events, to stay competitive in the shrinking job market, the modern journalist must be able to contribute as much or more commercial value. In his article “It’s Hard Out There for a 21st-Century Future Journalist of Tomorrow,” Renay San Miguel describes a few job listings looking for new reporters. Each describes and ideal candidate as someone who not only has skill and instincts as a journalist, but also someone who has knowledge of computers and web design and who can produce their own content for digital media.

But such expectation can be daunting for aspiring journalist and old hands alike. Many in the field have spent their career, or at least their time in school, dreaming of uncovering stories that could change people’s lives, hoping to speak truth to power and make a difference in the world. Finding out that what matters to their prospective employers is page hits and frequency of posts rather than in depth reporting and hard worked quality pieces.

In her article “A tale of two newsrooms,” Amy Kingsley tells the story of the Las Vegas Sun’s foray into digital media. Despite sharing a brand name with the entity that, through in depth research and careful reporting, brought home the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a Las Vegas newspaper, the on-line site, under the tutelage of Rob Curley, quickly switched formats to quick production of constant new content focused on counting those ever important page views and the lowest common denominator. Reporters who had been proud to work for a media outlet that focused on strong, deep reporting recoiled, and many left, when faced with focusing on traffic fatalities and celebrity gossip.

The news industry is a fickle mistress and capturing the attention of consumers is important to the success of any outlet, but the industry is still trying to find its way with new business models replacing traditional subscriptions and guaranteed readers or viewers. It is easy to fall into the pattern of catchy titles and exciting promos just to get that view, but the more versatile quality journalists can themselves, the more they can control the path the modern news reporting follows. It is important that the most dedicated and talented reporters take learn the skill necessary to control the journey, and not just tag along for the ride.